21 January 2015

Yarn Along: tying up loose ends

A busy week, and a busy weekend coming.  Busy with wonderful projects, family gatherings and a much-needed retreat to Michigan.  :)  



Right now I have a couple projects already halfway, so I am trying to tie up the loose ends.  I have completed J's messenger bag!  It is a sweet bag!  I will share it closer to her birthday.  I am also still working on those hats I mentioned last week.  I haven't had time for them amidst everything else, so they are still waiting for me.  I am hoping I will get at least something done on the car ride, but since it'll be dark for most of the drive, we'll see.  



I am reading a book called ScreamFree Parenting.  It is really a wonderful book.  At least, I feel more empowered to be calm with my children come what may.  One of the kids had an incident where they made a poor behavioural choice and were not happy with the consequences of that choice.  There was definitely a fit involved.  Afterwards though, you would have found us together, curled up on the floor reading a book together.  (In the end, that child's resignation and elasticity helped them get over it pretty quickly!)  But the real miracle was that throughout it all, I found myself staying calm and connected.  That was the big part.  Usually when meltdowns occur, I run for the hills emotionally!  I realize not all parents suffer from the same shortcoming, but this book is so helpful for me in learning to leave reactivity behind and embrace inner calm when dealing with my children.  

Wishing you a wonderful and calm Wednesday!



Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.


15 January 2015

Dailiness

I've seen it popping up around everywhere; the idea of celebrating everyday moments - finding the extraordinary in the mundane.  There is actually a really nice book out there called The Quotidian Mysteries.  I found it a comforting read actually.  It's not just that I love the idea that each moment is precious.  I find it helpful for my own personal journey to think of each moment as that opportunity to grow.  Especially the challenging ones.  

That's not to say, of course, that I am successful always.  Probably not even most of the time.  But it helps to break it down one step at a time.  Laundry, dishes, cooking - the tasks that must be done each day alongside a multitude of others - are really ways to mirror Divine love, to focus inward, the promote contemplativeness, to offer upwards as constant breaths.  And that, is a very beautiful, uplifting way of looking at something which can all too often feel boring,  dreary and lacklustre.  

Here are some of our everyday moments.  They are not terribly glamourous, but they are precious.  



:: A visit to the yarn store and a 50% off sale yielded this small stash.  :)  I love sales!  I plan on using them for some hooded cowls.  That might take a while to get to, but I can wait and so can they!  




:: Kitchen work.  Cheese pies, fresh bread, and crème caramel.   That crème caramel was the best one we made yet.  Smooth, pale, velvet custard sliding effortlessly down your tongue.  (I might have had some for breakfast the next day...)



:: Papa and his girls.  (D is like a rock star in our house to those girls.)  The second photo was requested by M after we finished the cheese pies.  The kids like to hang out around us.  They go off for short periods to play on their own, but somehow they always gravitate back towards mama and papa.  I know that won't always be the case, but I am just loving it while it lasts.

12 January 2015

Weekend tidbits and a little garlic



A little crafting going on these days...

Almost done J's messenger bag.  Just have to sew in the lining and voila!  She'll have a sweet little bag to carry her treasures around.  Of course, it's almost impossible to keep things secret around here, so she knows she's getting a messenger bag.  I haven't shown her the final product though.  Last night I stayed up late pinning the lining to the outer bag... which leaves everything inside out.  Which means she can't see the bag itself, only the lining and even that is inside out.  Anyhow, best I can do under the circumstances.  Can't wait to show it off!



The kids made safety pin angels this weekend.  They strung beads onto safety pins, and then onto wires to shape into angels.  A sweet craft, but perhaps a bit much for little hands.  At least so I thought until yesterday when M brought me a whole bunch of safety pins he had strung with beads all by himself unbeknownst to me.  Basically they just needed to be strung on the wire and tied up.  Awesome!  I love being surprised like that!  (Although I think M surprised himself just as much...)



As for yarn crafting, that's kind of an ongoing given.  I am working on a few more hats right now and I hope to share them later this week.  Of course, I am hoping to share finished products by then, but who knows what will pop up in the meantime, so I'll leave it open.  :)

Oh dear, the laundry is piling up a bit and I can start to see the little mountain from where I sit.  As usual, it's not so much dirty clothes, just the clean clothes waiting to be folded.

And of course, illness is still our companion.  This time it's residual nightly coughing and an ear infection for baby.  It was painful for her, but we went the natural route this time and she is doing much better.  (We were so thankful that our doctor was supportive of this course.)  Her treatment was quite helpful in getting her comfortable especially for sleep time.  Nothing fancy: warm, garlic-infused olive oil drops for her ear, saline rinses for her nose, and managing her fever and pain with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.  And I have to say, she's a champ this girl of ours.  Didn't even flinch when we give her the saline drops up her nose.  Same with the ear drops.  I think the oil drops actually helped with the pain, but what do I know.  Regardless, she seems to be back to normal in less than 24 hours.

I am a huge fan of the more natural, herbal remedies whenever possible.  This recipe for the ear drops is pretty basic and really easy to make.  I usually make a fresh batch each day and administer it ever 4 hours or so along with tylenol.  She acts a little weird after I've put it in, but 5 minutes later she's a different baby - definitely happier.  And the healing time seems so fast - ours lasted for about 24 hours.  If you ever have a child with an ear infection, I would really encourage you to try this out.  (Just don't use it on a child with a perforated eardrum.)  Both olive oil and garlic are antiviral and antibacterial (amongst many other things!) so they're perfect for the job.  All this being said, I should also mention that I am no doctor, so please make sure to check with your doc beforehand.  


GARLIC-INFUSED OLIVE OIL EAR DROPS

2 cloves garlic,
4 Tbsp olive oil

Chop and then mash garlic so that it's crushed thoroughly.  Place in a small glass jar or cup and pour olive oil over it.  Allow it to steep for about 15 minutes.  Strain mixture through a clean cotton cloth scrap into another glass jar.  Warm gently by placing glass jar in a cup of hot water for a few minutes.  Test on inner wrist before administering.  Should be just slightly warm, not hot.  Gently administer a drop in the affected ear every so often to help with discomfort and swelling.



Joining Nicole and friends for this week's Keep Calm Craft On.  

6 January 2015

Strep, math and liver



Here were are after ringing in 2015... sick.  A nice little strep infection going around alongside a lovely virus.  Enough to keep us at home and somewhat out for the count.  For the record, it is especially at moments like these where I am so thankful for modern medicine.  A simple thing like Tylenol makes a huge difference when faced with a fever over 40.  Very thankful, indeed.

I am also thankful for moments where the little ones take charge of their "school" work.  When his fever is down, M has been very much into Montessori math games and exercises.  Pictured above are the snake game and another exercise of combinations adding to 10.  For the snake game, he records his work on small sheets of graph paper.  The graph paper allows him to keep place values accurately and basically show his work clearly.  He is still working on accuracy with counting those little beads.  (He gets a bit excited towards the end and will sometimes add a few extra in his eagerness to finish!)   He still loves the challenge though and will often ask to play the snake game in the evenings.  

Today D made dinner.  We had liver.  (I can hear the gagging!)  But he has a way of making it that totally changes the taste.  I can't divulge his secret simply because I'm not exactly sure how he does it, but it involves garlic.  Glorious garlic!  Grlic pounded into a paste with olive oil and somehow incorporated with the liver.  We eat it with bread sandwich style, or with french fries - the kids eat their liver with ketchup too (gross!).  It's moist, almost juicy, meaty and somehow comforting despite the garlic kick.  I used to hate liver until I married D.  So ya, I thought I'd brag about D's more exotic kitchen skills.   Especially given that I'm the one profiting from them! :)

At least life is not all terrible.  I am hopeful we have turned the corner and are on the mend for the most part.  Hopefully!  


31 December 2014

Yarn along


Following Ginny's lead, here are all the Rapunzel hats I made for gifts this year.  Such a fun project. I had some pretty happy girls around Christmas time.  :)  Kids really seem to love dress-up and costumes.  I'm hoping to run with that for a bit in the coming year with my kids - wolf, bear and lion ideas are already fermenting in my brain!

Wishing you a wonderful celebration of 2014 and looking forward to 2015!


Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.  

30 December 2014

Festive snapshots


While the holiday season is not technically over, we have been enjoying many festivities thus far.  With family (from near and far) around us, every day feels like Christmas!  


All projects were wrapped up (literally and figuratively) by the time they needed to be, and I can't say I've enjoyed a more relaxing feast.  :)  Especially given that most of it was handmade.  Perhaps that added to our joy in a intangible way.






Once gifts were opened, the kids spent time playing together.  They received some really lovely presents - they especially loved the dress-up parts!  Aside from the handmade gifts I mentioned here before, we got the kids a set of Lincoln logs.  M has been really big on building houses since and even J will bring along her animals to play with the logs.  (S is more into the cleaning up or taking out and giving to us process.)  It was a great investment. 







The photo above is of M playing with a model human torso he received from his Godfather.  I never believed a kid could be so happy with an educational toy, but this toy blew him away.  He is studying the human body now and can name most of the major system components and their function.  Thank you Uncle Alex!  

And here is the promised photo of my little dragon/dinosaur.  He just needs a tail now.  (Maybe for his birthday?)  

Wishing you a Happy New Year!  

22 December 2014

Culinary arts and other creative pursuits



Obviously most (though not yet all) of the making going on here is edible.  And most of it gifts.  My little elves have been involved in mostly everything we've been doing, as you can see.  Such a help, these babies!  I've noticed that, though things get messier and require more time to complete, when I let them help, we all end up feeling wonderful.  They with their sense of accomplishment and confidence, and me with the joy of working alongside my babies.



:: Peppermint bark was a smashing success based solely on the chocolate-smeared faces of my girls.  (And so it starts... girls and chocolate.)  The candy cane smashing was pretty intense and I had to sweep it up before things really got out of hand.  (Imagine candy cane floors!)  The  joys of making things with kids usually preclude photography.  But we did snap a beginning and a final shot...



:: Petit fours.  At least, they will be with a smear of jam and a dip of chocolate.  (The candy sprinkles, ground nuts, or chocolate drizzles are optional, but pretty traditional in our home...)  And of course, some more Christmas cookies by the little ones.



:: Yule logs.  My little man actually did most of the work.  I just folded the batters together and popped them in the oven.  He insisted on spreading the filling and helping coat them.  It was lovely.  And he even did the dishes afterwards!  (My hero!)



:: Gingerbread cookies.  The kids wanted reindeer.  I kind of prefer the little men.  Oh well.  To each his own.



:: Meat pies.  Hard to resist "testing" them.  So hard.  However, they are now safely tucked away in the freezer.  *Whew!*

I think I might have mentioned that while we have bought a few gifts this year, most of our gifting is coming from our hands, especially the kids.  Regardless of why, I find that is has given us more time to experience the Advent journey together in true peace of soul.  It is a lovely feeling to be able to focus on the Nativity of Christ without so many distractions and craziness.  So easy to be sucked into that vortex.  So easy to forget the reason for this time.  The kids love reading about the Wise Men, learning the hymns and carols of the feast, sitting and talking about Christ coming to earth.  We've had so many profound conversations, which I don't think would be possible if we were running around shopping or so unconsciously focused on consumerism.  I am so thankful for this time, for this experience.  It is completely different experiencing this feast with children and each year I am reminded of my blessings.

Wishing you much joy and peace in the kitchen and everywhere in your homes and hearts.